Check out the latest in our video series where Dr. Erin Bobicki answers the most frequently encountered questions about microwaves and how they can help the mining industry. Full transcript below.

Q: Do different rocks respond differently to microwaves?

Dr. Erin Bobicki: Sulfides and different metal oxides tend to heat very well in response to microwaves, whereas silicates and carbonates and other typical gangue minerals do not. So this means that the ores that contain these minerals such as chalcopyrite, pentlandite, galena, pyrite, pyrrhotite, magnetite, etc., heat in response to microwave exposure, but the ore texture is also important.

So if we’re interested in microwave assisted fracture in particular, typically, ores with highly microwave responsive phases that are well dispersed throughout a non-heating gangue yield a positive result in terms of improved mineral liberation and reduced ore competency. Ores with a more coarse texture such as a veiny texture tend to respond well to microwave-assisted sorting.

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